The superhero toon from SNL vets Seth Meyers and Michael Shoemaker wraps its first season on Hulu.
What with the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and for all we know the Justice League waiting in the wings, was there really any more room in the universe for another superhero team? Saturday Night Live veterans Seth Meyers and Michael Shoemaker were gambling that the answer is yes, launching their animated comedy series The Awesomes on the online video hub Hulu. The show’s first season ends with its finale on September 26, which is tomorrow.
The Awesomes consist of Professor Doctor Awesome (voiced by Meyers), the team’s hapless would-be leader, who’s attempting to live up to the legend of his father, Mr. Awesome; Frantic (voiced by Taran Killam), a super-speedy redneck eager for his own reality show; Sumo (Bobby Lee), a young boy who hulks out into a huge Sumo wrestler when he gets angry; Muscleman (Ike Barinholtz), whose name is self explanatory; Concierge (Emily Spivy), the team’s super-efficient go-fer; and Gadget Gal (Paula Pell), once a superhero in the 1940s who was hit by a rejuvenation ray and is now an 85-year-old woman in a 25-year-old’s body.
Meyers and Shoemaker bonded over comics book early in their tenure on SNL, and that eventually led to the development of The Awesomes. “The first thing we ever did together was walk to Midtown Comics,” Meyers says, “That always tied us together and we always wanted to do something with comic book heroes, and working at SNL was always strangely like working at the Justice League. We were surrounded by talented people who all had unique abilities and unique personalities and we thought our experiences there would tie in well with a new superhero show. We were very lucky to end up with this animation company Bento Box, and they really helped us develop the look — we wanted a cleaner look.”
“We wanted it realistic looking, as close to a comic book look as possible and with the characters looking like people, not different shapes and grotesque,” Shoemaker adds. “We wanted them to look like they might in real life, and the antecedents were things like King of the Hill, shows where the comic characters looked like people.”
Despite the sitcom conventions of dysfunctional superhero teams, Meyers and Shoemaker insist The Awesomes will deal with serious themes of redemption and loyalty as it attempts to carve out a fictional universe to rival those of Marvel Comics and DC. “We were both DC people growing up,” Meyers says. “I think the first comic book I bought was Hal Jordan throwing his ring down on the cover and saying, ‘I quit!’ I just remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, I’m getting this at the perfect time!’ Right as one of the Green Lanterns was quitting. I liked when the stories were connected and you had to come back the next week to find out what happened.”
Shoemaker too was drawn to the complexity of the comic book world. “The first comic book I remember was ‘The Legion of Superheroes’ and it was Shrinking Violet giving Superboy a kryptonite pill so he would forget about life in the 30th Century… and I just thought, ‘This is fascinating!’ It was the most fascinating thing I could think of, that this woman would shrink and put this pill — the idea that it was so intricate, that it had so many levels to it, it kind of hooked me immediately.”
The writers are shooting for that kind of complexity in The Awesomes. “It really is a reflection of 40 or 50 years with the DC and Marvel universes,” Shoemaker says. “This is a universe that we’re unleashing, like the DC and Marvel universes, that have tons of superheroes in it that have existed for years and years, so it’s about that kind of minutia that you can’t really get in a superhero movie that can’t have all the other characters in it for whatever legal reasons.”
Shoemaker also points out that The Awesomes will differ from a lot of the other superhero parodies out there. “Most superhero parodies we’d seen were based on bad superheroes with dumb powers. These people have real powers, but it’s more about seeing them come together in a comedic way. It’s a comedy set in a superhero team, as opposed to the other way around.”